When I’m sad and lonely or feeling blue, there’s one thing I can do that I know will lift my spirits and make me feel instant relief from any emotional turmoil. I call Ian, my pot-bellied pig (not on the phone; he’s only in the other room), and in he trots, eager as ever to spend some quality time with me. His company always makes me feel great – whether we are lying on the couch watching America’s Got Talent, sharing a bag of apples or carrots, rolling in the mud together in the backyard or taking a stroll through the park, I love our quality time together! Ian is my emotional support animal and my best friend.
Emotional support pets can really improve your mental health. Whether it’s a pig, a cat, a dog or a rat, any animal that you have a special bond with will be a wonderful addition to your life and will increase your happiness and mental well-being enormously. An emotional support animal provides companionship, positivity, a sense of responsibility, unconditional love and gives you a reason to get some exercise – all crucial components in robust mental health.
Here are five ways in which an emotional support animal can improve your mental health.
Caring for a dependent animal will increase your levels of empathy
A high level of empathy and sympathy for other living creatures makes you feel more at one with the world around you. Empathy lets you feel less alone and reminds you that you are a part of something bigger. When you feel cut off from the world around you, you can become paranoid and lose touch with reality. An emotional pet that loves unconditionally and needs care and attention can’t help but increase your level of empathy. No man is an island and having a pet reminds you of this fact many times a day.
Having your playful pet frolicking around the house will reduce depression
The company of an emotional support pet is one of the best ways to alleviate depression. But what is an emotional support animal? An ESA is any pet that, in the opinion of a mental health practitioner, improves the condition of a person suffering with a mental health issue. The feelings of sadness, listlessness, low energy and isolation that tend to constitute depression can be dramatically improved by the enthusiastic and positive vibes that emanate from a happy animal companion.
The presence and emotional support of your emotional support animal will greatly reduce anxiety
The presence of an emotional support animal is one of the best ways for you to manage and reduce your levels of anxiety. Anxiety is a condition that can spiral out of control when an anxious person is left alone with their thoughts. A friendly support pet who loves and adores you will calm you down and present something external to focus on, dragging you away from anxious ruminating. All you need is an emotional support animal letter from a registered mental health professional and you can get special allowances for your pet, such as taking it in the cabin of commercial flights with you and keeping it in otherwise ‘no pets allowed’ apartments.
Having an emotional support animal provides you with lots of physical exercise, which is great for the body and the mind
Many animals are constantly eager to go outside and play, so having a pet that needs exercise will get you out of the house and make you fitter. If your pet is a pig, dog or horse you will have no choice but to get up off your butt and go outside. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of exercise on mental health, so playing in the park with your emotional support pet can’t fail to lift your spirits. As well as the advantages of getting fitter, being out and about with your pet improves your social life. It’s easy to meet other people and strike up conversations when you have a pet with you. You can even go to pet clubs or dog shows. Who knows, walk your dog enough and you might become the next Mr or Miss Universe!
An emotional support animal can become a best friend
Solid friendship and companionship are crucial for good mental health. Humans are social animals. We crave company, whether we know it or not! Loneliness and isolation can lead to a lot of pain and mental anguish. In this digital age, real, live and in-person friendship is a rare commodity for some people. A good buddy that you trust and that is there for you unconditionally is often the difference between feeling blue or feeling great. None of us can do it alone.
So if you are feeling the bite of depression, chronic anxiety or PTSD, an emotional support dog, cat, bird, or rabbit could be a great addition to your life and will surely massively improve your mental health.